Jake Arnott was born in Buckinghamshire in 1961. He has worked as a labourer, a mortuary technician, a theatrical agent's assistant, an artist's life model, an actor and a sign language interpreter as well as enjoying many fruitful periods of unemployment. His acting experience has included work on the Fringe in London, Edinburgh and Toronto as well as improvised comedy where he has in the past worked with Sceptre stable mate Stella Duffy.
Imagine a British version of James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential minus much of its imagination and blazing energy and you'll have some idea of this disappointing follow-up to Arnott's highly regarded 2001 debut thriller, The Long Firm (soon to be a BBC miniseries). Like Ellroy, Arnott chooses to tell his period story through multiple voices in this case, three young men whose lives and fates intertwine over the course of many years: Billy Porter, a soldier who becomes a criminal and winds up killing three police officers in 1966; Frank Taylor, an ambitious copper whose best friend and former partner was one of the victims; and Tony Meehan, a gay journalist with a psychotic streak. Using a real case (the killer's name was Harry Roberts, and British football hooligans and later Vietnam protestors used to sing, to the tune of "London Bridge Is Falling Down," "Harry Roberts is our friend,/ is our friend,/ is our friend./ Harry Roberts is our friend,/ He Kills Coppers!") and newsreel-like flashes from such actual events as the World Cup Final game between England and Germany and police raids on Soho vice dens, Arnott tries to paint a picture of a country crippled by moral decay, and usually succeeds in that department. Fans of the first book will recognize a few of the characters who make appearances here; the trouble is that none of the three protagonists is very interesting or original, and the words Arnott uses to bring their thoughts and feelings to life (Tony's "As I fought with my own personal Enemy Within I could content myself with voyeuristic pleasures in the slow surcease of my desperate longings" is fairly typical) fizzle rather than sizzle. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
'One of the smartest, funniest and original novels you will read all year' Independent on Sunday (The Long Firm) 2 'Compulsive reading, powerful writing with an evocative feel for the bleaker side of the swinging sixties' The Times (The Long Firm) 3 'Gripping...slumming it doesn't get much better than this' Time Out (The Long Firm)"